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Recovery after surgery

Recovery following surgery is hard work but the effort you put in will help to decrease your pain and increase the function of your joint. Keep the following tips in mind as you rest and regain strength.

Manage your pain: Surgical pain eases as the days pass. Use narcotic pain medicines (opioids) for severe to moderate pain. Use Tylenol for milder pain. Space your medicine doses. As your pain level allows, take narcotic pain medicine less often and Tylenol instead. Take pain medicine one hour before exercise or therapy.

Take your blood thinner: Find a way to remind yourself to take your blood thinner daily. This medicine helps prevent blood clots.

Do required exercises daily: Without exercise, your new joint will not get stronger and work the way it should. Over time, exercising helps your pain and swelling decrease while you meet your recovery goals.

Hip exercises

Watch the following videos to learn more about recommended exercises following surgery:

Hip exercises and massage

Hip strengthening exercises

Knee exercises

If you've had your knee replaced, wear compression wraps for 4-6 weeks following surgery to decrease swelling.

Knee exercises and massage

Knee strengthening exercises

Safely return to daily activities: Activities of daily living will be more difficult than usual after surgery. This video will teach you proper techniques and helpful tips for getting in and out of the car, climbing the stairs and taking a shower, for example.

Returning to daily activities

Take care of your incision: Shower after your incision stops draining and complete necessary dressing changes. Do not swim or sit in a hot tub for a whole month. Leave the sticky strip alone. At your two-week post-op appointment, a nurse will tell you how to remove it.

Be aware of the signs of infection: Swelling, bruising and redness are normal around the incision and around the joint. However, if you have any of these signs or symptoms of infection, please call an Orthopedic nurse:

  • Severe or lasting pain that is not relieved by rest, icing or pain medicine.
  • Increased swelling in knee or leg.
  • Less function in leg than when in the hospital.
  • Increased redness around incision.
  • Increased drainage from incision.
  • Fever of 101 degrees F or higher.

Learn more: Refer to your Total Hip Replacement or Total Knee Replacement Workbook.


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